500 Things We Learned From Saturday’s Prep Races
El Areeb and Irish War Cry are who I thought they were
- Sure, I didn't bet either of them (or in the case of Irish War Cry even pick to win his race), but their Brisnet.com Speed Ratings and how they earned them stuck out among this generation, and I have no problem putting both among the top 5 Kentucky Derby hopefuls right now.
To be the best you got to beat the best, but the champion deserves a mulligan
- There is no way to spin Classic Empire's performance on the track as anything but disappointing. Even if there's a valid excuse it's still disappointing to see your top-ranked horse not even contend for victory at 2-to-5. Still, Irish War Cry is absolutely a good horse--one who might prove better than the reigning champion as the season goes on--but for now that champion designation has earned Classic Empire a mulligan.
- That's a long way of saying Classic Empire is still #1 on my Kentucky Derby list, but the horse I most expect could dethrone him beat him on Saturday.
Classic Empire is still the fastest horse in this group
- Another reason for the mulligan is that Classic Empire's Breeders' Cup is still the fastest race in this crop. Now whether he replicates that remains to be seen, but his 108 Brisnet.com Speed Rating winning the Juvenile towers over anything to date.
- Unfortunately, we won't get a real beat on that number until Practical Joke runs back, as he was the closest to Classic Empire in that race among those still racing (runner-up Not This Time retired, though he was highly regarded coming in and out of the race). Sure, Gormley won next out, but that was West Coast competition.
It's already been a good year of Mid-Atlantic based horses.
- Both El Areeb and Irish War Cry raced at Laurel, and the latter was bred in New Jersey. The Preakness Stakes might actually have a legitimate local contender in its race this year rather than having to pretend the Tesio winner has any shot.
The California circuit came into the weekend lowly regarded, and that didn't change much with Royal Mo's gate-to-wire win in the Lewis Stakes.
- From the first four points, I only touched on California horses once, and it was a dig, so that tells you the esteem in which that circuit is held. Still, it can't be ignored. There are surely some maiden and allowance types who will jump up, and the top two from the Sham could be OK.
- Several people have asked me about Mastery being off my Kentucky Derby top 10. I view him as Mor Spirit redux.
- Major props to James Scully, who has been on Irish War Cry since his debut, betting him not only in Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool 1 but also via the Wynn Las Vegas's future book.
- Don't believe every headline you read on social media